A collection from different web sites
CLEANING RIMFIRE BARRELS
by Lilja Precision Rifle Barrels, Inc
Rimfire rifle barrels are different from centerfire barrels in that they require very little cleaning and essentially no break-in procedure. We have asked several of the top rimfire shooters and gunsmiths that use our barrels about their procedures and based on our own experience, have come up with our recommendation for cleaning.
In a match-grade stainless steel hand-lapped barrel, leading is an almost nonexistent problem. Powder fouling is minimal too. It is possible however to have an accumulation of fouling in the leade area in front of the chamber. A build up here is detrimental to top accuracy.
We suggest cleaning in the following manner. After approximately 100 rounds push a dry loose patch through the barrel from the breach end. This pushes out loose fouling. Then take a tighter dry patch and work it back and forth about 10 times in the leade area, pushing it out of the barrel at the muzzle end when finished.
Every 200-300 rounds a loose (worn out) 22 caliber bronze brush, wet with solvent, should be worked back and forth in the leade area with short strokes and withdrawn from the chamber end. If there is any evidence of lead in the barrel then brushing the full length of the barrel with solvent is suggested.
Match quality bullets have a wax coating on them that aids accuracy. It may take 10-50 shots to "lay" a good coating of it down in the barrel and using solvents will only remove this desirable wax coating.
Users of the 10/22-type semi-auto barrels may have to remove the accumulated powder fouling buildup that forms on the breach end of the barrel. Extraction problems may result eventually unless solvent is used on this type of fouling.
The solvent we use and recommend for our barrels is Butch's Bore Shine from
BBS Industries (406-652-2495)
And no, this won't be my last time to visit cleaning. First, I don't think there is one perfect cleaning method. Two, each gun/ammo combo may be different. And I suspect a gun ammo combination requirements may change as a barrel wears.
My previous two Shilen barrels gave up since my last article on cleaning. What does that mean? They stopped shooting with the accuracy needed to compete near the top of ARA. The "Younger" just abruptly quit shooting. One week it was accurate, the next not. I spent many months denying this. Since my other gun was shooting I felt no urgency. But eventually after trying several brands of ammo and a number of lots, different tuning procedures etc. The barrel showed wear on the side, not at 6 oclock. I gave up. I replaced the barrel. The new barrel seemed pretty accurate, but all over the place in the wind. I replaced it again. This time Ken Specht of Ober Gun Works, put on one of Shilens 4 groove ratchet rifled barrels, one in 16 twist, number 6 contour. This barrel seems to be working fine.
My other gun, "The Elder", Gave up slower. I had noticed for some time that bullets did not engage the lands when chambered. Holes in the target were oval shaped. Yet the gun was shooting better than ever. Only needed to point it in the general direction of the target to get a hundred. Made me wonder how much is skill and how much having a great gun in benchrest. Also, the discussions we see about bullets going to sleep quickly. The quicker a bullet goes to sleep the less wind effects it. Well I don't think bullets ever went to sleep with this gun in its last great year. On talking with others I found a number reported guns that shot great yet left oval bullet holes. There alot I don't know about this that I wish I did. Shooting like this I had two 2350's, one with a breeze and over 40 2000's last year. Then slowly it seemed harder and harder to get great scores. Finally I had to realize it was gone. First I tried a new barrel that seemed fine in the wind but inaccurate. Next I sent it to Butch Hongisto of Sullivan Missouri. Butch put on a mate to the barrel on the "Younger". He also rebedded the action. Workmanship looks great and the gun shoots.
So where does this lead to cleaning? Well both barrels lives were shortened by cleaning. But do you want your barrel to last a long time or do you want to win? I mentioned in my last article on cleaning "The Elder" I changed to two dry patches between targets. I shot some 800 rounds like this. A bore scope showed no leading with Midas. But in the off season I found with indoor testing that although the barrel settled a few shots quicker with two dry patches. Its accuracy was not quite as good. I don't remember now and I'm not taking the time to look it up. But with two dry patches I could get 8 groups of just under .2 inch. Cleaning toughly with a brush, groups were in the .18 range.
I have had my own bore scope since the middle of last season. With my new barrels, both finished with different reamers I find just 6 strokes in and out of Shooters Choice Lead Remover takes care of the lead. First I do 3 patches of SCLR to get most of the crude out, then the six brush strokes, then two dry patches. Both are shooting great. It takes about 4 shots for each barrel to stabilize. So I shoot 5 before going to the sighter. I typically shoot 5 to 8 on the sighter. Then the record 25. Sometimes I shoot a few more sighters during the record string. 45 shots tops. Now I need to see how many rounds the barrels will shoot before needing cleaning. Until I prove otherwise I will clean each target
I see occasionally some ideas thrown around that I avoid. One is shooting plated bullets to remove lead. I could test this with a bore scope, but know way am I putting plated bullets in my good barrels. I know of no top shooter who has ever told me they do this.
Cleaning with a pull through string. Never saw anyone at an ARA Match do this. Seems like it should work for some guns, but if it was so great I'm sure top shooters would be using it.
Avoid cleaning because it takes so many rounds for barrel to settle down. Either barrel is not a fine match barrel or you need to try something else. I Remember when I started shooting benchrest I used my old standby, Hoppe's number 9. It took 25 rounds of Eley for the barrel to settle down. I tried other methods until I found a method that gives quicker settling.
The AMU cleans there rifles after every 40 shot match. ( Anschutz teaches to
clean the rifle after every match) I do not go that far. I found that my
rifle will shot well with 200 plus round without cleaning, but before 300
rounds it will not shoot as well.
Why should you clean your rifle? Store your rifle uncleaned that the residue
can attract moisture. That can not be a good thing. 2nd thing to think about
is that the powder left in the rifle when the next shot is fired can become
like sand paper cutting in to the barrel life
[Editor - If I wasn't going to shoot for a while then, yes, I would clean
my barrel. Your second point I don't find a valid argument unless you clean
between every shot or every few shots. Saying that you save your barrel
life by cleaning this residue out 1/40 of the time at best case (after
every 40 shot match) is unlikely. I'll give you that it may add 1/40 to it,
but I'd like to know the research that shows you get more than that.]
Re the Cleaning business.
Recently I replaced my old 15 year (approx 20,000 round) barrel with a 150 round
one. Anschutz 1911. I now clean this one - regular!
At the 2001 Nationals we all traipsed along to out favourite gunsmith who
promptly demonstrated with his bore scope the leading that occurs in rimfire
barrels. I was stunned.
The killer place seems to be in the breech between the end of the cartridge and
the beginning of the rifling. A thin smear of lead builds up incredibly quickly.
When we first saw it it looked like someone had literally plastered lead along
this part of the barrel. He then proceeded to demonstrated how to clean it out.
I went home and luckily for me I have discovered a bore scope close to home. I
borrowed it and carried it around for a couple of weeks to watch the build up of
lead. It starts out as a thin ring at the end of the cartridge and slowly builds
up. It was obvious after 20 shots. The ring just seemed to get bigger. After
about 60 shots the ring started to "turn over". That is, I think it was starting
the smearing process. I cleaned it then.
I now clean it every 60 shots now and have to admit that I can tell that after a
good shot is let go it burys it in the middle!
His recommended cleaning process? A pad of lead remover on an old bronze brush
and worked back and forth in the first few cms or so of the breech. Comes up
clean as a whistle. What got me was that after 100's of rounds, "normal"
cleaning did not remove this lead as it was firmly attached.
This leading process was published about a couple of years back in Precision
Shooting. Apparently Benchies know all about it and use a reamer (!!) during
their shooting to clear the lead out after every 5 to 10 shots!!!
PS I was also stunned at how nice the rest of the barrel was after all those
rounds in it. The breech end was certainly pitted but from 100mm or so it was
grey and smooth. The rifling was still very distinct.
[Editor - Again, I don't want to get into a shouting contest over how you
should clean your barrel. I stand firm in my opinion that if your accuracy
doesn't degrade over time, there is no need to clean unless you are not
going to shoot for a while. For some accuracy will definitely degrade and
they will be doing themselves a disservice if they do not clean regularly.
Some ammo (eg, Federal) is known to have significant leading problems. Some
ammo (eg, Eley) has very little leading problems. It is up to the
individual to determine what the cleaning regimen for each of his barrels
is or to just clean them religiously anyway like the USAMU does.
I have been following one of the better benchrest forums since January and
cleaning has come up many times from several "newbies". The "old-timers"
(some of them gunsmiths as well) seem to be split down the middle as to
whether to clean religiously or only as necessary. I've never once heard
any of them mentioning use of a reamer though. The most rigorous just use a
good guide, rod and brush with various solutions.]
I clean my .22 Anschutz after every match and training with the VFG
felt tips system, but without any oil or other fluid cleaner.
I just like to get rid of the powder residue to prevent it from
Does anyone see reasons to clean more thorough to get rid of lead and/
or carbon? I hear .22 bench resters clean their chambers and barrels
so that there is no lead or carbon left.
> Bill Strumski wrote:
> The AMU cleans their rifles after every 40 shot match. ( Anschutz teaches to
> clean the rifle after every match) I do not go that far. I found that my
> rifle will shot well with 200 plus round without cleaning, but before 300
> rounds it will not shoot as well.
It varies with the ammunition used. A friend, who has won the British
Championships before now, and who used Eley, hardly (if ever) cleaned his
rifle. Without ill effect.
When he started using Lapua (Eley was going through a bad quality patch) he
found that his group sizes increased after a couple of hundred shots,
unless he cleaned his rifle.
I would say that Lapua is a "dirtier" ammunition than Eley; test this by
looking at the patches after firing an equal number of each nature.
However, this doesn't have any effect upon the accuracy of the ammunition.
On testing at the Eley facility, my selected Lapua batch performed as well
as the best that Eley had to offer.